A force-wide look at misconduct among senior military officers — and the efforts to prevent it — found significant differences among the services' cultures.
"The Army and the Marine Corps have a very mature profession of arms," said Rear Adm. Margaret "Peg" Klein, the defense secretary's senior adviser for military professionalism.
"The ground forces, they send really junior people into leadership positions. They have company command, they have O-3s going into command, and their professional identity is learned very early on," Klein said, referring to the paygrade for captains in the Army, Marines and Air Force. Navy O-3s are lieutenants. Yet the Navy and the Air Force, historically, "are very technically focused," she said.
"We're not in a crisis. But this subject of human behavior requires constant attention," Klein told Military Times during a recent interview.
During the past two years, Klein and her seven-member staff have helped the Navy and Air Force set up their own centers: the Navy Leadership and Ethics Center at the Naval War College in Rhode Island and the Air Force's Profession of Arms Center of Excellence at Joint Base San Antonio.
The Air Force recently established its Profession of Arms Center of Excellence at Joint Base San Antonio in Texas.
Photo Credit: DOD
"Those two organizations are helping airmen and sailors to understand the importance of trust, humility, integrity, empathy. They are helping them understand those very important virtues of command," Klein said.
Klein singled out the Marine Corps for its distinctive culture, saying "their messaging internal to the Marine Corps and their marketing external to the Marine Corps is really tight. The way they communicate inside the Marine Corps is much different than the way any of the other services communicate."
But Klein said those are anecdotal and she's found no systemic or deeply rooted cultural problem. "We're seeing numbers within historic norms," she said. "We always want to be shooting for a target that decreases the incident rate."
"We think the right answer is a little different for each service based on their heritage."
Andrew Tilghman is the executive editor for Military Times. He is a former Military Times Pentagon reporter and served as a Middle East correspondent for the Stars and Stripes. Before covering the military, he worked as a reporter for the Houston Chronicle in Texas, the Albany Times Union in New York and The Associated Press in Milwaukee.